Sanctuary wetlands nearly finished |

Sanctuary wetlands nearly finished

After four years of construction, the John Denver Sanctuary wetlands north of Rio Grande Park should be finished by the end of October
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

After four years of construction, the John Denver Sanctuary wetlands north of Rio Grande Park should be finished by the end of October, said a city parks official.

“This is the last piece of it,” said Scott Chism, planning and construction manager for the city of Aspen’s Parks Department. “We’re very close to the finish line right now.”

Workers are in the final stages of installing and connecting the last pipe in the wetlands area along Mill Street across from Clark’s Market, and should be done by the end of the month if not sooner, Chism said. A wall recently built on that western section of the park will allow people to look directly into the wetlands area, he said. Parks workers seeded that section about a month ago.

Work on the $2.5 million project began in 2011. The budget for this year’s work was $70,000, Chism said.

The project also included constructing the wetlands in front of Theatre Aspen. Taken together, the project is designed to take storm water and melt water runoff from Aspen’s downtown core and filter it through the wetlands, making it far cleaner by the time it flows into the Roaring Fork River, Chism said.

Previously, that runoff would have flowed through storm drains directly into the Roaring Fork and would have been far dirtier, he said.

“The end game is to improve the water quality,” Chism said. “It makes quite a bit of difference.”

The entire project includes the eastern section of wetlands completed in 2012, the new bathroom facility on the northern edge of the park, a pump station that provides gray water to irrigate the Rio Grande field, the John Denver Song Garden and other areas of the sanctuary, underground vaults that filter solid materials and divert run off into the wetland streams and ponds and pathways throughout the area.

By the end of next week, workers will begin taking down the neon plastic fences cordoning off the area, Chism said.

“Our goal is to make a beautiful place,” he said.

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